2012 Running time: 96 Certificate: pg Rating: 3

Synopsis

As the grumpiest old man in London, Arthur (Terence Stamp) does not approve of his sickly wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) singing herself silly with her local choir, the maverick "OAPZ". When Marion can no longer go on, choir leader Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) does her best to keep Arthur in the fold. Maybe he'd even like to join them? And maybe pigs can fly. The power of love, togetherness and Motorhead combine to make this an eye-dabbing must for sentimental fools of all ages.

Director

  • Paul Andrew Williams

Cast

  • Terence Stamp

  • Gemma Arterton

  • Christopher Ecclestone

  • Vanessa Redgrave

  • Anne Reid

Review

After the unflinching trio of London to Brighton (bleak), The Cottage (bloody) and Cherry Tree Lane (bleak and bloody), writer-director Paul Andrew Williams softens up with a tale that overcomes a potentially bleak situation with bloody shameless manipulation.

Making the BBC's The Choir look like a musical version of Full Metal Jacket, Song For Marion wraps the story of one man's redemption in the joyful shenanigans of an amateur singing troupe aiming to win a big competition.

Initially, the stage belongs to Redgrave's Marion, a plucky cancer sufferer who looks forward to nothing more than her weekly singing sessions with her friends down the local community centre.

Unfortunately, her cantankerous husband Arthur (Stamp) finds it undignified and embarrassing. "You know how I feel about enjoying things" he says to their son James (Eccleston). As a divorced dad who only sees the old git when he needs a favour, James doesn't need reminding.

But for Marion's sake, Arthur relents. And after seeing her perform with the enthusiastic but tonally challenged OAP'Z [sic], he's almost touched.

Alas, when the inevitable comes to pass, Arthur goes back into his shell. But while sensitive to his working class pride, choir mistress Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) is determined to make him see that there's more to life than roll-ups, brown ale and self-imposed misery.

With sincere performances from the main players allied to gentle comedy in the Last Of The Summer Wine mould, there's no doubt that Song For Marion has its heart in the right place.

But while there's value in seeing pensioners belting out Let's Talk About Sex, Love Shack and Motorhead's Ace of Spades, it all feels rather patronising.

"Don't forget the joker" goes the metal anthem. Unfortunately, the scarcity of gags suggests that Williams has, leaving the OAP'Z with no standout members. Indeed, apart from Arthur, none of the characters are particularly strong.

As a school music teacher who only volunteers one night a week with the OAP'Z, it's hard to believe that the vivacious Elizabeth has no time for love or friends. Yet the antisocial Arthur has loads.

Still, by hook or by crook, Williams chivvies everyone along to the requisite throat-clearing denouement. A feelgood finale, for sure. You just might feel like you've been man-handled to get there.